Vasily Shestakov: Athlete’s health is the most important thing

In his exclusive interview with the portal, the President of the International Sambo Federation Vasily Shestakov revealed whether the SAMBO competitions will be canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, gaged the decision to postpone the Olympics to 2021, and also gave advice on how the athletes can keep fit in quarantine and seclusion.

– The primary topic that haunts everyone now is the coronavirus. Should we expect the staging of postponed tournaments on the announced dates, or if the situation does not change, the competitions are subject to cancellation?

— First, there’s no need to get into a panic. Certainly, the virus has made adjustments to our competition calendar, and we cannot ignore the recommendations of the World Health Organization, but let us stay objective: COVID-19 is not the bubonic plague, not Ebola, and not malaria. Today, laboratories worldwide are working on a vaccine, so we are confident about the future.

In SAMBO, the athletes’ health has always been and will ever be the top priority. Therefore, if the global situation in three or four months still causes concern, we will adjust the dates once again. Even if we exclude spectators, our competitions are always massive, at least 200–250 athletes partake in them (not to mention coaches, referees, medical staff. —, unlike MMA events with five or six bouts per evening. So, we cannot take such risks.

– On March 24, it was announced that the Olympics were postponed from 2020 to 2021. Do you agree with this decision?

– This is the right decision. Of course, putting any major competitions off, and especially the Olympic Games always entails considerable financial losses. All the same, the International Olympic Committee clearly outlined their priorities: one should not risk the athletes’ health.

– On the whole, any suggestions on how to train and keep fit in the present quarantine?

– You can practice a wide variety of techniques at home by using special exercise machines and training equipment. Besides, training can be done outdoors, weather permitting. Just the other day FIAS launched a flash mob called “Together We’ll Defeat the Coronavirus” in which athletes the world over practice techniques and throws on a dummy with a crown on its head and the inscription COVID-19 on its torso. The flash mob is intended to raise the spirits and consolidate us in the struggle against this global disaster.


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